Swegon North America, a market leader in sustainable indoor environment solutions, strived for a clearer operational picture to identify friction points threatening business success. As part of my LEAN Six Sigma training program, I spearheaded a research project to explore whether communication gaps within the engineering change management process were incurring significant costs.

Project Lead / Researcher
Research, Information design
Consider this scenario: a product has undergone the engineering and production process, only to have a customer request a change a few days later, triggering a cascade of challenges that can majorly impact the business. This is where engineering change management comes into play, where communication is essential to handle the intricacies of such requests.
— Goals

In collaboration with key stakeholders, we highlighted existing silos and risks in the engineering and manufacturing process, leading to a compelling business case. Armed with a detailed research plan outlining the challenges, resources required, and supporting team members, we unravelled the intricacies of the engineering change management process.


Understanding the process — Determining the role of Change Orders

Our exploration began with an in-depth study of Engineering Change Orders (ECO) in the manufacturing domain. ECOs are the backbone of administering and controlling changes. They ensure seamless adjustments to the Bill of Materials (BOM), product components, manufacturing and procurement processes, and customer requirements.


Serving the impacted — Bridging the gaps

Collaborative workshops with subject matter experts from various functional areas, such as Project Management, Engineering, and Operations, shed light on the broader impact of the existing engineering change management process.


Visualizing the journey — Mapping for improvements

With the aid of subject matter experts, we meticulously crafted functional deployment maps, offering a vivid end-to-end perspective.


Surfacing pain points and seizing opportunities

The flow mapping exercise unearthed a chain of common pain points, classified as root causes and resulting issues. After synthesizing the research, we presented a list of recommendations for elevating the engineering change management process across the business.

  1. Development of robust engineering change management procedures
  2. Maximizing the utilization of the ERP system
  3. Standardizing documentation of business processes
  4. Investing in comprehensive employee training programs
  5. Implementing inventory management reporting tools
  6. Enhancing technology and software integrations
— Impact

Lessons learned and beyond

Venturing into unfamiliar territory at the project's onset proved rewarding, allowing fresh perspectives to enrich the endeavour.

Key takeaways:

  1. Question relentlessly to find the right direction
  2. Record and document information for in-depth analysis
  3. Simplify complex processes through visual representations

After presenting the findings to company executives, I documented the project and completed the LEAN Six Sigma Green Belt program. This transformative experience has propelled me further as a designer, equipped with a newfound appreciation for the power of effective communication in engineering change management.

Tiffany Chan — Designer
Email / LinkedIn
© Tiffany Chan 2023